I don’t know what to think about this movie. Franny (Richard Gere) has everything he could have ever wanted, until his best friends die in a car accident that leaves him severely injured. Five years later, he’s holed up in a hotel room, drinking himself through the days until his friends daughter Olivia (Dakota Fanning) turns back up in town, pregnant and married to a young Doctor, Luke (Theo James). Soon Franny is cleaning up his act (except for his pesky addiction to morphine) and is trying to rebuild his life through Olivia, and especially James. He’s buying them houses, paying off loans, and trying to insert himself into their lives as if they were his two friends that he lost. It’s inappropriate and uncomfortable to watch, and Gere makes a show of it and his characters sad clown attire. This begins to unravel and we see the true Franny, the desperation and longing pouring out of him.
It’s a movie built off of its performances. The script is fine, if not overtly on the nose with it’s details and it becomes unrealistic in some of it’s plotting. Gere is the true driving force of the film which often doesn’t seem to know what story it’s trying to tell. At one moment it’s a film about grief and the inability to let go and in another scene it turns on its head and turns into a drug fueled psychological thriller. These mismatched tones of the film are exacerbated by the grandiose cinematography.
My main issue, and what kept pulling me out of the film, was just how big everything seemed in comparison to the performances. This isn’t to say that the performances weren’t strong (they were my favorite part about the film; it was that the performances were intimate and unforgiving. The setting, the score, and the cinematography were bombastic and ill-fitting to what the actors were trying to convey. The emotions being delivered deserved a small stage to play with, rather than getting lost on the larger one. Very few things can pull me out of a scene quicker than an ill timed score and Franny had just that.
Richard Gere delivers an energetic and piercing performance as Franny, a man who’s constantly on the edge of losing his composure. Gere is volatile and his moments of weakness are hard to watch. Theo James gives maybe my favorite performance even if he isn’t thrown through the emotional gaumet that Gere is. But James has a warm presence, one that makes me want to keep an eye out on his films coming out that aren’t in the Divergent series.
Dakota Fanning, on the other hand, is given nothing to work with and appears almost as an afterthought even though she’s guides the films narrative into place. Olivia could have been an interesting character, one who, if explored, could have shared a different but mirroring type of pain to Franny. She lost her parents too and found herself racing into adulthood much quicker than she first intended. Why is it that she is the only one who’s point of view is absent? It’s seems like a major oversight and something that if rectified would have allowed for a more substantial story. Her perception of him is what built Franny up and tore him down-shouldn’t we get a greater hint as to why?
A wonderful showcase for the actors and little else, Franny was entertaining if not frustrating. If the performances were matched by the script and filmmaking we could have had a very different film on our hands.